So hello from Poland! I arrived home last night. I do not feel very sad – after all I am in my home country and I can finally speak my language everywhere ;) Soon I am leaving to Warsaw, but I am spending this weekend at my home town of Suwałki. Today I would like to tell you about my experience with Eurolines, it’s not my first time, but I can compare my yesterday’s come back with my previous one – from Sofia to Warsaw – with Ecolines, being Eurolines’ competition.
So as I mentioned I travelled with Eurolines – this buses are available throughout the whole Europe. The bus was operated by Lithuanian company TOKS under Eurolines Business Class brand. In other words, it must meet the requirements of Eurolines which is already a good thing. The seats are very comfortable and there is a lot of space for you.
Eurolines came up with an idea of having two types of tickets in their offer – one is a standard class and the second one is a VIP class. I actually travelled with VIP class twice, including yesterday. The difference between standard and VIP class is the fact that in VIP class you have a few single seats and there is a lot of leg space. Eurolines Lithuania also offer you a bottle of water at the entrance to the bus, but it is regardless of the class.
I had this amount of luggage with me (+ bagpack which is not pictured ;) ) and it turned out that with my VIP ticket it is perfectly fine to have so much of luggage, no extra costs involved :)
Eurolines Lithuania operate with Setra buses and the VIP seats are located in the front part of the bus. I already told that there is a lot of space, but let the pictures speak for themselves.
Of course, there is also a possibility to connect your electronic devices to 220V power socket and also, you can use your computer and other devices on the plastic shelf that is attached to the seat in front of you. I tried both with my tablet with keyboard (over 10 inches) and my regular laptop. Both fit without any troubles.
The one above is a tablet. The bus is also equipped with free WiFi working during the whole trip. WiFi itself is quite fast (I did not measure the speed, but it allowed me to watch YouTube videos, listen to Internet Radio etc.). It was out of reception a few times though, mostly in Latvia and Lithuania. Of course, it is not a surprise that in Estonia in worked perfectly, and the mobile reception there is one of the best (if not the best) in Europe ;)
You can also enjoy some extra light with the window located in the roof. This window is also controlled by the driver, so if it’s too hot inside, they can open that a bit and give some extra natural air.
There are of course individual control of light and air flow above your sit, like on the plane, but it’s more of a standard I suppose.
Ok, so what they could work on
The things that I am going to include below are my personal opinions, but they come from comparison between Eurolines Lithuania and Latvian company Ecolines.
First of all, the toilets in the bus are the biggest con. They are super tiny. And of course, I understand that the toilets in the bus are not like in 5-star hotel, but it’s very uncomfortable to use them for the person who is taller than 1,50 m. I am 1,74 and I was hitting the wall with my head while using it. And even though I know that is more of a complaint for the producer of the bus than for the company that operates on the routes, I would prefer not to use the toilet at all (during 13 hours of trip it is rather not possible to avoid that though). I think that the following information will not make the toilet bigger…
Here is my first comparison to Ecolines – from my travel from Sofia to Warsaw in 2014. They used double-decker busses with the toilet located downstairs. It was really big for the bus standards, a person of any height and size could use it in a very comfortable way. I think it is a much better solution for long distance travels to have this type of bus in operation.
The other thing is lack of the steward or stewardess. There is no service person in Eurolines Lithuania busses. This is problematic for a few reasons, but mostly – for communication purposes. The drivers in Eurolines busses did not speak English, some of them could speak some Polish (which is good) but they communicated between each other in Russian. Fortunately for me, I also speak some Russian but it would be much more convenient if there was some English involved.
In Ecolines the stewardess was on board for the whole travel and she was able to help you with any problems. She spoke fluent English, Russian and Latvian. You could purchase some coffee, tea, food, blankets etc. from her and she was there whenever you needed her. She also informed (in 3 languages) that we will have the break of “x” minutes, which did not happen in Eurolines yesterday. This way the drivers could easily concentrate on their job and also – as I remember, they were a bit separated from the passengers so they could not distact them. PS. I still remember the stewardess’ name – Alina, you were excellent!
Another thing is the fact that VIP seats are not clearly marked in the bus – there is no something like “VIP Seat” information on each seat and people are confused a lot, especially if this is their first trip with this company. During my trip yesterday two people actually quarelled about the seats after they were asked to sit on the right ones – they sat on VIP seats while they purchased a standard seat. There is also a numeration of seats, but… only if you purchase the ticket online. It also seems that it’s not relevant at all in the bus – I purchased a sit with number 8, but I still was in seat number 7.
It is another thing that is done much much muuuuch better with Ecolines. So in Ecolines you have a seat number regardless of where you are buying the ticket – so if you go to their sales point, the seat is assigned. Same with online purchase (you can actually choose the seat if you wish, like in Lux Express for example). As soon as you enter the bus, you are also informed if your seat is in upper or lower deck. That is a very good service!
Both lines also offer their own media centers. Ecolines have built-in tablets with internet (though the connection worked only in Poland), movies, music, some games etc. In 2014 there were no headphones or earphones included, but you could use your own ones or purchase a pair for 1 euro or something like that. Eurolines Lithuania offers an access to their media center with movies, music and magazines. You have to have your own device, e.g. smartphone or tablet, though.
So basically the service by Ecolines was much better and thought through, while the one by Eurolines Lithuania is fine, but if the trip was more than 20 hours, I would find it extremely uncomfortable despite of a nice seat. All because of a bad organisation of things.
The trip from Tallinn to Suwałki (my home town) costs 35 euros in standard class and 47 euros in business class. Ecolines on the same route would charge you 43 euros, so less than a VIP ticket in Eurolines, but more than the standard one. In my opinion VIP ticket in Eurolines should not be more expensive than those 43 euros.
You might ask – why did I choose Eurolines then. Well… it’s a direct bus, while Ecolines involves a change in Riga, as there are two routes: Tallinn-Riga and then Riga-Warsaw (stopping in Suwałki). I prefered to go just with one this time, as I had a lot of luggage :)
The good thing is that regardless of the bus you can see some views!
I tried to take a few pictures from the bus. They are not so good in quality, but will surely give you some recognition of what I saw during my trip.
The fields with yellow flowers are absolutely awesome! I could see them both in Latvia and Lithuania. And btw – I really loved Riga and Vilnius from the bus. I need to visit them finally for some weekend :)
Happy Saturday / Sunday for all of you :)